Leak Warning Devices for Water Heaters


The one thing that all tank-type hot water heaters have in common is that they will leak at some point in their useful life cycle. The question is not whether a particular electric or gas-fired water heater will leak; the question is when will it leak and how much damage that leak will cause before it is discovered. Today it is very easy to minimize the damage by installing electronic leak detectors. Some leak detectors merely notify the homeowner of the problem, while others automatically shut off the water feed to the heater.

Hardwired Systems

  • Hardwired systems, just as the name implies, require all the components to be physically connected to one another with electrical wires. Hardwired systems can be more challenging for the do-it-yourself homeowner because the wires connecting the detector to the leak-signaling devices must be fished up through finished walls, floors and ceiling to the alarm-signaling devices in strategic places throughout the home. Like all leak detectors, hardwired devices require a nearby electrical outlet to operate.

Wireless Systems

  • The wireless leak-detection system eliminates the need to run electrical wires through finished walls, floors and ceilings. All the components in a wireless system are linked together using frequency-modulated radio waves. The transmitters built into these detectors are powerful enough to send a signal to devices throughout any home home, even a large two- or three-floor home. The only hard wiring in this case involves the wires connecting the detector to the power supply that plugs into the wall outlet.

Automatic Water Shutoff

  • Both the hardwired and wireless systems have the capability to automatically shut off the water feed to a hot water heater when a leak is detected. Powered shutoff valves are inserted in the cold water inlet line, and the leak detector activates these valves when a leak is detected. Installing the shutoff valves requires working with a torch and copper pipe, so if your plumbing skills are not up to that, you may want to hire a professional for that part of the project.

Connections to Home Security Systems

  • Both the hardwired and wireless systems have provisions for connecting them to home security systems. Doing this allows the leak detectors to be monitored remotely, and a leak will trigger an alarm at the monitoring station just as a fire or break-in would. The feature comes in handy when you are going away for an extended period of time.

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